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President of the Women's Development Bank Visits Los Angeles

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

Over 500 people eager for news of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela came to hear Nora Castañeda, President of the Women’s Development Bank, speak on “Venezuela: Creating a Caring Economy” at Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

President of the Wom...
venezuela_event_021.jpg, image/jpeg, 598x448

Over 500 people eager for news of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela came to hear Nora Castañeda, President of the Women’s Development Bank, speak on “Venezuela: Creating a Caring Economy” at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles on January 31. The event was part of a six-city tour, (Jan 29 to Feb 9), coordinated by the Bolivarian Circle of the Global Women's Strike (GWS) with the support of the Venezuelan Embassy. Tour sponsors included the Vanguard Foundation, KPFK, KPFA, WBAI and WPFW Radio, Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, Ed Asner, Dolores Huerta, and Greg Palast. Ms. Castañeda was accompanied by Selma James, GWS international coordinator, and Nina Lopez of the GWS Bolivarian Circle/UK providing introductory remarks and translation.

In Los Angeles, the diverse multi-racial crowd welcomed Ms Castañeda, an economist of African and Indigenous descent who is committed to the grassroots, with a standing ovation at the beginning and end of her talk. She said, “We have not come here to export the Venezuela revolution because we know that the revolution is made by the people themselves. And it is possible for the people of the world to make another one. We want to speak to you about our experience, the experience of the poorest, the experience of the women of my country.” She highlighted the issues of racism, immigration, and women’s poverty. Racism, she said, “played a very important role that said that women who were poor were worth less and that was the way in which they could get free work out of us, we were Black, we were ugly, we were fat, we were too short. All these were excuses for the accumulation of capital.”

Venezuela is the world’s fifth largest exporter of oil. Yet 80% of its people, mainly people of color, live in poverty. In 1998 they elected President Chávez to get the oil revenue back so they could tackle poverty and corruption. In 1999 they passed one of the most advanced constitutions in the world. Women won Article 88 in their constitution which recognizes work at home as an economic activity that creates added value and produces social welfare and wealth. Housewives are entitled to social security. In 2002 they defeated a coup carried out by the Venezuelan elite with the support of the US administration. Literacy, healthcare, housing, land rights . . . have all leapt forward. Ms Castañeda has been instrumental in that process.

Selma James described why the GWS organized the tour. The GWS, actions by women in 60 countries demanding that society “invest in caring not killing,” organized the tour first to counter the disinformation about what is happening in Venezuela, “because we have to stand here with the people of Venezuela to prevent the US government from intervening against the people there. We need the Venezuela revolution and Nora Castañeda and others here because millions of us in the world want to see the world transformed but are in two minds about whether we can do it…If they are doing it somewhere, we can find out that they’re doing it, how they’re doing it and have the courage to do it where we are. It gives us a picture, an understanding, a vision of what we in the grassroots are able to accomplish which all our lives we’ve been told we never can do,” she said.

The tour’s purpose was also to raise money for grassroots women’s projects. Hari Dillon, President of the Vanguard Foundation announced an unprecedented donation ,000, not to the Bank but directly to grassroots women’s self help projects that the Bank is promoting. “We want to demonstrate … that the money for some centuries has come from Latin America to the US and it is time to reverse that process,” Ms James said.

Ms Castañeda received a proclamation from LA Mayor James Hahn and the City Council, and was honored at a Fandango at the East Side Café in El Sereno. Local sponsors included Office of the Americas; 2000+ Bookstore; ANSWER/LA; El Sereno Neighbors for Peace and Justice; San Gabriel Valley Neighbors for Peace and Justice; WILPF. Fifteen organizations endorsed.

For more information about how you can support grassroots women in Venezuela, for local actions for the GWS on March 8 and/or to order the film “Venezuela: A 21st Century Revolution,” which has clips of Ms Castañeda and President Chavez speaking, and women from a cleaning cooperative, one of the projects of the Women’s Development Bank, call 323-292-7405.

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Nora Castaneda

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

Nora Castaneda...
venezuela_event_019.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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Nora Castaneda and Selma James

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

Nora Castaneda and S...
venezuela_event_027.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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"Creating a Caring Economy"

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

"Creating a Car...
venezuela_event_sany21.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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Margaret Prescod, Selma James, Nora Castaneda, Nina Lopez

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

Margaret Prescod, Se...
venezuela_event_029.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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Fandango in honor of Nora Castaneda

by Ruth Todasco Thursday, Mar. 18, 2004 at 9:47 AM 323 292 7405 PO Box 86681 Los Angeles CA 90086

Fandango in honor of...
fandango_in_east_la.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

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